Appetite for Destruction

Mr. SB and I had an odd experience last night. At around 9.30pm, having established that there were no films on Sky to satisfy both his appetite for Bruce Willis blowing things up, and mine for Ralph Fiennes doing… well, anything, we found ourselves watching CNN.  The reason we were watching CNN was that BBC News was, in our opinion, not bringing us nearly enough in the way of drowning Hawaiians.

In the event, CNN was unable to bring us drowning Hawaiians either, because thankfully there weren’t any, but I found myself repeatedly wondering about our motivations for watching.  This was – or at least, had the potential to be – an extraordinary news event: live worldwide coverage of a natural disaster, with cameras and reporters in place several hours before it actually happened.  Of course, since the horrendous events of Christmas 2004, the word ‘tsunami’ has acquired a new resonance, and the millions of us watching around the world had front row seats, all wide-eyed and ready to watch the whole thing happen again. Mr. SB and I stopped short of popcorn, but only just.

What were we watching for, and what did the news channels want to show us?  Did we all really want to see massive devastation and innocent people drowning?  There was a palpable air of disappointment among the news anchors and reporters when the promised 8 foot tidal wave failed to materialise at Hilo Bay; a few hours later, seismologists were being dragged into news studios and asked in almost accusatory tones why the thing wasn’t bigger, more exciting, more… newsworthy?  They had wanted to bring us The Day After Tomorrow, and all we got was one dead fish.  CGI is good, but it’s not that good.

And by the way, there also seemed to be a curious double standard in operation last night. At the same time as CNN and FOX were waiting with bated breath for the watery destruction of half the Pacific Rim, the BBC were refusing to show us pictures of a man having his leg snapped in half in a football match. This naturally caused huge disappointment in the SB household, and we had to Google it.

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~ by somethingblonde on February 28, 2010.

4 Responses to “Appetite for Destruction”

  1. As a species we do have some fairly horrible basic instincts. There is something deeply seductive about the adrenalin rush that comes from watching disaster unfold in front of us, whether watching 20′ waves crashing over a harbour wall or rubbernecking a crash on the motorway or demanding 24/7 news coverage of whichever awful experience our fellow human beings are going through at this precise moment. Of course we dress it up as concern – and sometimes it engenders genuine sympathy and acts of real compassion – but fundamentally it is about satiating our evolution driven need for excitement and drama now that we no longer face sabre toothed tigers on a regular basis.

  2. Hmmmm as I suspected – no other posts tagged with “ghoulishness”….I will be checking back though… 🙂

  3. Well it all depends, I suppose. I don’t want to watch a horror tackle, nor do I want to be fed in-depth footage of destruction in Chile. Maybe I am a wimp

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